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Gisborne man’s death in London goes before jury

A case brought against a British company over the death of former Gisborne man Jacob Marx, killed by a falling shop sign in London more than five years ago, began yesterday in the English capital.

Mr Marx, 27, a lawyer working in London, was hit by a falling nine-metre metal sign on Camden Road, Camden Town, as he walked past a betting shop on January 28, 2013.

The case brought by Camden Council is against UK bookmaker William Hill, owner of the sign.

The trial is being heard in the Blackfriars Crown Court in front of a 12-person jury.

It is expected to continue for five weeks.

“It could have been anyone who was walking under that sign that day,” Mr Marx’s partner Natalie Chung says.

“My hope is that this trial will bring to light the failings that took place so that something of this nature will never happen again.”

She said Mr Marx, born and raised in Gisborne, was a smart, spirited and caring man — someone who “you just wanted to be around”.

The two had been together for nine years and planned to get married.

They had lived in London for four months.

William Hill was criticised in 2015 for “deficiencies” over the installation and checks on the sign.

It came as an inquest ruled the shop sign fell because of health and safety failings.

Health and safety executive inspector Steven Simmons-Jacobs told the inquest that the sign could have fallen down “at any time”, on “anyone”.

The sign was not properly screwed on. It was held up by small “panel pins” that were not designed to hold the weight of a large sign.

William Hill, Saltwell Signs, which put up the sign, and Acean Builders, which carried out a refit, all denied responsibility for checking whether the sign was properly fixed.

The jury at St Pancras Coroner’s Court returned a narrative verdict, finding that the reasons for Mr Marx’s death were “multi-factorial”.

“Despite William Hill having systems in place above the usual standard, there were deficiencies in communication and project management between Acean and William Hill.

The sign struck Mr Marx’s head and neck in front of a number of bystanders.

Five or six people pulled the sign off him before staff from a passing ambulance tried to resuscitate him.

He was taken to University College Hospital in Euston but was pronounced dead after suffering a heart attack as the result of a severe head injury.

Jacob Marx and Natalie Chung . . . . Miss Chung says her hope is that this trial will bring to light the failings that took place so something of this nature, that claimed the life of her partner, will never happen again.